From the Head MasterNick Van Breda
In writing my article for the final weekly Bulletins for 2021, I find myself looking both forward and back.
I am very thankful that the rhythm of School life has been maintained without a confirmed case of COVID-19 at school through this term. After the extended time at home in the second half of the year, the prospect of more enforced time away caused me some concern. However, as events have transpired, our Year 12 students have been able to complete their final examinations, our Year 9 boys have been able to participate in the Field Studies Programme, and all of us have enjoyed some sense of normalcy in School life. The sounds of our musical ensembles have resonated on campus once again, our Mock Trial team has progressed to the Grand Final of the competition, and the training and trials for the summer sport season are well underway.
I am also very impressed by our students. At this time of year, when the boys’ learning is brought together and summarised for reporting and prizegiving, we get a clearer window into the progress that they have made. The Year 6 Exhibitions in the Preparatory and the Junior Schools demonstrated the sustained engagement of our boys in a disciplined form of inquiry learning in a topic that matters to them and to our world. Each morning on quad this week, boys in the Middle and Senior Schools were commended for their academic performance, engagement and growth this semester; the public nature of this acknowledgement honours achievements in the academic realm just as we do for the various co-curricular achievements of our boys. The seven Prizegiving Assemblies that will take place next week provide this year’s climactic opportunity to celebrate the boys’ achievements, although there is disappointment that parents will not be able to join us in person for these ceremonies. Despite the frustrations of the year, very many of the boys have made good progress in their learning.
I am eagerly looking forward to the farewell events for our graduating students next week. Both the Preparatory and the Junior Schools will conduct Valedictory assemblies for their Year 6 students as we mark the conclusion of their primary school years. On Saturday we will welcome our Year 12 students back as a cohort for the first time since mid-June as we conduct their Valedictory Assembly on an outdoor stage on Number 1 Oval. We are delighted that parents will be able to join us for that event, as well as the Year 12 Valedictory Dinner next Wednesday.
On a personal note, as I reflect on the year, I am struck once again by diversity of my experience; there is extraordinary variety in the matters with which I engage from day to day. The highs of seeing and hearing our boys at their best are offset by the disappointments that come with encountering our boys at their worst. The big picture of planning building and development of the School campuses in the years to come is partnered with the urgent need to ensure that every class has an excellent teacher. The continual pressure to have something meaningful to say and write brings with it a compelling need to keep reading, thinking and reflecting about how the School can best carry forward its mission. An aphorism oft-quoted among School leaders is that it is the best job in the world, with some really, really bad days. That rings true in my experience.
With everything that has transpired this year, I must confess to anticipating a sense of relief at the prospect of the summer break. There is still much to take place between now and the final day of classes next Wednesday, and the end of classes is by no means the end of work to be done for many of us, but the pace does change significantly over the summer. Of course, as we remember the fires of two summers ago, and the northern beaches outbreak of last year, we know that events may not pan out as hoped for, but hope does spring eternal!
For two years our world has navigated the way forward in the shadow of the pandemic. By God’s grace and through many good decisions by those in responsibility, our nation has avoided the worst of its impact, even though all of us have experienced some form of pain. As we look forward, buoyed by the protection offered by high vaccination rates, albeit shaken by the prospect of new variants of concern, I trust that you have hope for the future, both in 2023 and the years to come.
Our experience of life is inevitably mixed. The good with the bad. The sorrow with the joy. The toil with the rest. My prayer for our community this summer is that, even in the inevitable disappointments that come over summer and next year, we will hold onto hope. Most particularly, I pray that we will know the hope that comes to us through Jesus, who shows us that God is at work in our broken world.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
Detur gloria soli deo
Tim Bowden | Head Master